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Contact Author Sheri L. Koetting, MSLK
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Knowing your customer will streamline your brand-building efforts.

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Have you ever wondered how some brands appear so confident in their efforts, seeming to make swift decisions with ease? These are brands that have an intrinsic sense of who they are and the customers they serve.

An essential part of making clear, objective choices is to truly know your customer. These insights allow brands to select where to invest time, energy and dollars in order to provide the best value to their customers. After all, what’s best for your customer is what’s best for your business. Knowing your target audience enables brands to perform effectively.

Objective Design Decisions

When making decisions, teams naturally gravitate toward considerations of cost, budget, schedule and other logistical factors. However, many times they are not considering the customer. But if you know what your customers need and what they value, you possess powerful tools to unlock your business potential.

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This is also helpful during the creative process. We use our customer profiles to evaluate design options, visuals, etc., turning what could be a subjective evaluation into an objective review. Remember, it is not about you; it is about them.

Selecting the Right Brand Image-makers There is no substitute for brand ambassadors, bloggers and real people to tout the benefits of using your product. Even model imagery can be powerful at setting the overall tone and building inspiration around the brand.

Customers who are already familiar with a product category generally respond well to industry lingo.

However, if your customers cannot identify with the people in these images, your efforts will fall flat.*

Knowledge of your audience makes the process of selecting people to represent the brand more meaningful. Instead of just focusing on the next pretty face, you can ask yourself if that person embodies attributes that your customers possess.

Are your customers seeking the reassuring voice of authority? Would straight talk add a breath of fresh air to the conversation? Do they prefer a gentle, more emotional touch? Maybe they’d like to hear real experiences from people just like themselves.

The key to unlocking the appropriate brand tone lies in knowing the educational level of your audience. How much time do they typically invest researching your product?

Not every social media platform is appropriate for every brand.

Customers who are already familiar with a product category generally respond well to industry lingo. If they are new to the category, you may want to adopt a more friendly tone and lend credibility to your content with real-world feedback from people just like them.

If your multiple audience profiles span a broad range, you may want to have two levels of content on your site—one track which gives a simplified overview and another which digs deeper with more technical content.

Choose Your Message

Hand in hand with tone of voice is an understanding of which messages will be most meaningful to your audience. By understanding their biggest desires, you can create copy that speaks to these points directly.

These messages might become targeted campaigns or key callouts on your website. If you have several customer profiles, you may begin to look at their shared interests in your products and create top-level copy that calls attention to these key benefits. That information might then be included on individual packages or as a brand-wide tagline. 

Pinpoint the Ideal Social Media Platform

Not every social media platform is appropriate for every brand. Look at the preferred media of your target audience and layer that with the key messages you are trying to convey. By doing so, you’ll have crucial insight into what platform is right for you. 

Some messages are best expressed with imagery, some are better with words or video, some are best revealed over time. When you understand who you are trying to reach and which ideas you are trying to convey, you can triangulate the social media platform(s) that are right for your brand.

I believe it’s always best to find the right platform, penetrate it successfully and gain a following before considering expanding onto other platforms.

Focus Your Budget

If knowing your customer is helpful in narrowing down the choices of social media platforms, you can imagine how critical it is in defining the other marketing opportunities. From traditional media advertising to tradeshows, events, and other disruptive marketing ideas, there are endless creative ways you can reach customers and no shortage of places to spend money.

Knowing your audience allows you to put yourself in their shoes.

Put your target audience first and you will streamline your brand-building and marketing process overall.

Consider where they might be most receptive to information. Where might they be most apt to try something new or pause to read a message? How might you be able to pique their interest or introduce them to a need that they might not have even considered?

Fully immersing yourself in the experience from your customer’s point of view is a great way to unlock some creative solutions for reaching your audience.

Give Retailers Confidence in You

Savvy retailers are going through the exact same exercises as you. They are intimately aware of their shoppers and what they seek. Retail buyers expect to see a clear presentation outlining your product’s appeal and why it’s meaningful to customers.

Retailers also want to see that you have a plan for outreach to build customer awareness. This gives them greater confidence that your product will fly off their shelves. Armed with this data, a retailer can comfortably stock your product. If you cannot provide this information, they will likely ask you to go back and do your homework.

As you can see, your brand benefits from knowing your customers. When you don’t, you risk false steps and will surely incur unnecessary costs. Put your target audience first and you will streamline your brand-building and marketing process overall. Only then can you become one of those confident brands who are able to make swift and accurate decisions.

*As Global Cosmetic Industry noted last year, Datamonitor Consumer has shown that 45% of consumers want their looks to reflect their age, and 55% believe that images of beauty showed on advertising are unrealistic. Consumers are tired of unachievable beauty models that are so ideal they are impossible to reach by regular consumers. Because shoppers feel they are not represented by the current standards of beauty, the logical step is toward something real.

Sheri L. Koetting is the co-founder and chief strategist of MSLK, a branding agency based in New York. MSLK specializes in helping beauty brands find their voice in today’s crowded marketplace through 360° brand positioning—from overall brand strategy to brand identity, packaging, retail experience, websites and social media campaigns. Contact: sheri@mslk.com

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